A GAME changer.
That is how Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat described the temporary vaccination center that will rise at the Nayong Pilipino property in Parañaque City.
In a news conference on Monday, she said, “We’re hoping in 40 days, we have a temporary mega-vaccination, drive-through facility in the remaining portion of Nayong Pilipino.” The facility, a public-private partnership, is expected to vaccinate at least 12,000 people a day.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases ratified the Department of Tourism (DOT)-endorsed initiative for the construction of the vaccination center. It will rise on a vacant lot owned by the Nayong Pilipino Foundation Inc. (NPFI), a DOT-attached agency.
Separate sources confirmed to the BusinessMirror that the project was proposed by ICTSI Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of the ICTSI, a publicly listed global port operator chaired by business mogul Enrique K. Razon Jr.
Sources who declined to be identified as they had no authority to speak on the matter said, “The exact area is still being finalized with the National Task Force [on Covid-19], but it should be around 5 to 6 hectares, depending on the design.”
While ICTSI Foundation will be the sole importer of the Moderna vaccine under the tripartite agreement with the government, the vaccination facility “will not be exclusive” for the foundation’s use. Other institutions will also be able to use it and jab their own vaccines, according to separate sources.
Asked what other establishments will be allowed to use the facility, the same sources said, “It will depend on the MOA [memorandum of agreement] between the NTF [National Task Force on Covid-19] and the Nayong Pilipino Foundation Inc.”
Romulo Puyat said, “We’re grateful” the NPFI board approved the use of their property for the much-needed vaccination facility. “The temporary use of the NPFI property affirms the DOT’s continuing commitment to support the vaccination program, consistent with its earlier endorsement and approval as well by the NTF of allowing tourism frontliners to be on the priority list,” she stressed in a separate news statement.
58 percent availment of cash aid for tourism workers
Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said he does not think that more funds will be needed for the cash-aid program for tourism workers.
In a joint news conference on Monday with the DOT, Bello said in a mix of Filipino and English, “I don’t think so, because when we were accrediting the qualified beneficiaries, the numbers were quite poor. That’s the reason we even liberalized the requirements, to the extent that we included in the application tricycle drivers who serve was tour guides, even restaurants are now qualified as part of the tourism industry…to be able to spread the funds [which amount to] P3.1 billion. It’s so huge.”
As of April 6, 2021, a total of 355,797 workers from 13,752 establishments, organizations, and associations nationwide, as well as 12,321 tourism workers who applied individually, have been approved to receive financial assistance amounting to some P1.84 billion. This is about 58 percent of the total funds allocated for the cash-aid program. The actual disbursement or payout amounts to P1.2 billion.
For the NCR Plus area (Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal), DOLE has approved some P336.74 million in financial assistance to 67,347 tourism workers.
During the DOT-DOLE event, 35 tourism establishments and organizations with 8,251 workers/members were awarded certificates representing P41.26 million in cash aid. Beneficiaries receive P5,000 per person.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes